THE name Lobengula needs no introduction.
The last King of the Ndebele nation is a well-documented figure in Zimbabwe’s history. But what of this legendary warrior’s wives?
Not much has been told or written of the King’s better-halves. However, one of the Queens, Lozikeyi, was probably the best known of Lobengula’s wives – believed to be more than 20.
Songs of Lozikeyi, a musical production and collaborative effort featuring seasoned Bulawayo-based artistes, will reveal more about this remarkable matriarch.
Based on the story of Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo, the senior wife of King Lobengula, herself a descendant of Mpangazitha the Hlubi warrior king. Queen Lozikeyi had the status of prime minister in the court of King Lobengula.
The musical takes audiences through a journey of understanding a woman who possessed many traits, some good, others questionable and most misunderstood.
The songs introduce Queen Lozikeyi Dlodlo to the word and show where she hails from, shedding light into the importance of culture and faith not only to her but to her people. Lozikeyi loved her people.
And the songs are a celebration of her heroics.
Queen Lozikeyi was a forward-thinking leader who held the nation together after the cataclysmic “Imfazo”, the Anglo-Ndebele wars of 1893 and 1896.
She impressed on the Ndebele the need for education.
The Songs of Lozikeyi was birthed at the Bulawayo Arts Festival held in July as an initiative of Nhimbe Trust.
With vibrant performances in song, dance and poetry, the festival production featured 21 acclaimed artists working together to create a vivid musical tribute and celebrate the life and history of the great Queen.
Guided by the writings of acclaimed historian Pathisa Nyathi in his seminal book Lozikeyi Dlodlo: Queen of the Ndebele and other research, the production was written by Noma Damasane (also known as “Lady Tshawe”) and Thabani H Moyo, conceptualised and directed by Saimon Mambazo Phiri and executive directed and produced by Josh Nyapimbi of Nhimbe Trust.
According to Nyapimbi, the musical is already getting rave reviews and bookings at international festivals.
“It feels great to get back into the studio for Nhimbe Trust’s second music studio recording after the 2017 Blood Tongue THE Musical. This time it’s the Songs of Queen Lozikeyi, working with some of Bulawayo’s finest musicians. We believe the music will cut a niche for itself on the world stage, both live and digitally,” Nyapimbi said.
Among the cast are lead singers Thandy Dhlana and Nomathamsanqa “Nkwali” Mkwananzi, poets Sithandazile Dube, and Thandokuhle Sibanda, Prince Joel Nyoni (guitar), Obey Mudiwa (drums), Paul
Maseko (bass), Mthabisi Moyo (guitar), Gomez Dube (percussion), Vuyile Qongo (saxophone), and Laura Ngwenya on the backing vocals.
The recording is under the hands of engineer Erustus Nleya of Loud Records and Prince Joel Nyoni.
Featured in the six-track recording is the song Halala Lozikeyi by Nkwali which was commissioned by the Queen Lozikeyi Trust, an institution founded by her descendants to preserve her intriguing legacy.
The chairperson of the Queen Lozikeyi Trust, Sihlangu Dlodlo, said: “As the Lozikeyi Trust, we believe that this is the time now to celebrate the Queen as a national icon, a national heroine, and to use her name to motivate young women, especially from the disadvantaged sectors of our society to stand up and be counted; to draw some inspiration and motivation from who Queen Lozikeyi was, because she stood up when the King had disappeared and took leadership and pushed people to achieve something.
“So this is the kind of thing we expect, we expect our young people and especially young women to stand up and be counted and not to be intimidated by circumstances.
“Songs of Lozikeyi was a brilliant show… first of all the artist selection was very special because and Thandy Dhlana and Noma Nkwali are some of the best voices we have around. Their music is slightly different, but very complementary, so this enabled the Songs of Lozikeyi to have that necessary variety.
“Thandy came in with this jazzy touch, Nkwali came in with the traditional touch and it all blended very, very well.
“The dancing was fantastic, I think the young choreographers did a splendid job in managing to capture the mood of the songs and the story of the songs. For me, the balance was well done and the whole thing came together to present the strength and the focus that is the story of Queen Lozikeyi herself. I say ‘Hats off!’ for a job well done.”
Vuyelwa Mabhena, a member of The Queen Lozikeyi Trust, dressed lead singers Thandy Dlana and Nkwali.
Nkwali said: “It’s such a great honour to be part of the Songs of Lozikeyi production. When writing the song Halala Lozikeyi two years ago, l had to consult the elderly to learn more about Queen Lozikeyi. l spoke to Khumalo, who is also from the royal family and he told me a lot about our Queen; she was a very powerful woman and an inspiration to us today. I have learnt so much already from when we started working on the production, and now looking forward to getting into the recording studio, trying out new things, working with different artists from my city. I am very grateful to Nhimbe Trust for this opportunity.”
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